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CLU13400 Introduction to Latin Language and Culture

Latin was a living language, and the leading one in Western Europe, for over a millennium; it was also the main form of communication of ideas in both Humanities and Sciences until the early modern period. Knowledge of Latin gives us access to a deeper level of understanding of our own language and of the concepts and terminology we encounter in the subjects we study and in the culture we call our own.
  • Module Organiser:
    • Prof Anna Chahoud
  • Duration:
    • One Term (Jan - Apr)
  • Contact Hours:
    • 22 (2 x 1 hour class/week)
  • Weighting:
    • 5 ECTS
  • Assessment:
    • 100% continuous assessment, consisting of 10% participation and online discussion, 50% individual online and in-class tests, and 40% group project on a Latin key word, concept, or line, critically examining its continuing and changing relevance across space and time.

Introductory Reading

  • Ayers, D. M. (1986) English Words from Latin and Greek Elements (Arizona)
  • Dickey, E. (2017) Learning Latin the Ancient Way (Cambridge)
  • Gardini, N. (2019) Long Live Latin: The Pleasures of a Useless Language (MacMillan)
  • Janson, T. (2004) A Natural History of Latin (Oxford)
  • Solodow, J. B., Latin Alive: The Survival of Latin in English and Romance Languages (Cambridge and New York, 2010)

Learning Outcomes

On successful conclusion of this module, students should be able to:

  • Recognise the relevance of Latin to a deeper appreciation of English and modern European languages and cultures
  • Challenge and critically analyse questions of linguistic imperialism across space and time
  • Analyse the composition of English words derived from Latin, identifying the relevant Latin words or roots and giving their meaning 
  • Confidently read, pronounce and write Latin words 
  • Manage basic Latin vocabulary and grammatical structures to make sense of brief Latin texts from classical antiquity and beyond
  • Analyse a number of culturally specific words (e.g. virtus,  mos, pietas, imperium) and evaluate the conceptual difficulties involved in translating them and interpreting their distance from modern modes of thinking
  • Develop a fully researched case study relevant to each student’s disciplinary interests in dialogue with other disciplines (e.g. law, natural sciences, politics, theology, etc.)